Birthplace: Snow Camp
First, Middle Names: John Carrol Nicknames: Cap
Date of Birth: Sept. 19, 1906 Date and Place of Death: Feb. 16, 1957, Fayetteville
Burial: Lafayette Memorial Park, Fayetteville
High School: Undetermined
College: Elon University, Elon
Bats: L Throws: R Height and Weight: 5-11, 180
Debut Year: 1938 Final Year: 1938 Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Philadelphia Phillies, 1938
G AB H R RBI HR BA. OBP. SLG. WAR
52 74 19 11 4 0 .257 .337 .297 -0.2
Cap Clark was a high-school teacher and coach most of the time. In the summer when school was out, he played professional baseball. He kicked around the minors for six years before getting the call. Clark put in a respectable season as a backup catcher in the majors and then went back teaching and coaching. He added shop keeping when he opened a sporting goods store in Fayetteville that’s still in business eighty years later.
John Carrol Clark was born in Snow Camp, a small community in Alamance County so named because it snowed the night British troops camped there during the Revolution. John Sr. and Frances “Fannie” Clark soon moved their six surviving children to a farm in nearby Newlin, where Clark grew up.
It’s unclear how he got his nickname. They were calling him Cap at Elon College, where he played baseball, football, and basketball. The student newspaper in 1928 went further than that. “The Babe Ruth of Elon,” it described the slugging outfielder.[I]
After graduating in 1930, Clark taught and coached first at Garner High School in Wake County and then at Raeford high in Hoke County. He played ball in the summer. Clark switched position to catcher while playing for the Asheville Tourists early in his professional career.
After hitting well over .300 for two years in the high minor leagues, Clark got his chance when the Philadelphia Phillies hired him as their backup catcher for the 1938 season. He hit .257 in limited play and was released.
After a couple of more years in the minors, Clark quit baseball in 1940, about the time he and Fred Culbreth opened Clark & Culbreth Sporting Goods in Fayetteville.
Clark had married Mildred Pipkin, a Garner native, in 1936. They settled in Fayetteville to raise their two children.
He was a young man – only 49 – in 1957 when a heart attack killed Cap Clark.
A few years later, St. Andrews College in Laurinburg named its new baseball field after Clark, a school benefactor. His store, now Clark Sporting Goods Co. and no longer owned by the family, is still there on Bragg Boulevard.
[I] “Clark Lead Elon Past L-R.” Maroon and Gold (Elon College, Elon, NC), April 26, 1928.